#CyberFLASH: Ottawa should be careful on expanded police powers: Editorial

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Crime, like everything else, has been transformed by the digital age. Fraudsters, child pornographers and terrorists, among others, are becoming ever more expert in using digital technologies to commit their offences and cover their tracks.

Not surprisingly, this has created new challenges for law enforcement. Police chiefs across Canada claim investigators do not have the tools to keep up. Many say concerns about privacy have scuttled their attempts to convince politicians to provide them with the cyber-surveillance powers they need to do their job.

As Bob Paulson, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, puts it, “We’re losing our ability, if we haven’t lost it entirely, to bring the traditional investigative response to technologically facilitated crime because of the misunderstanding, in my view, of the privacy threat.”

This week, Paulson shared with reporters from the Star and CBC News case files he says demonstrate the obstacles his force faces, an attempt to help the public understand the need for new police powers the federal government is currently floating.

The cases are no doubt disturbing, tales of child abusers and wannabe terrorists evading justice. But while they clearly illustrate new and thorny police challenges, they do not establish that the requested powers are necessary or proportionate or to what extent they would endanger privacy or even weaken security.

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